Andrew and his older self walked across the dark lawn of the campus. Despite the rain shower, Andrew was concerned by the fact that they were walking so brazenly out in the open, in flagrant violation of the basketball camp’s curfew. Despite his concern, he kept his doubts to himself; he didn’t want to seem like a pussy.
“Nobody’s awake, so you don’t need to worry,” the older Andrew told him as they walked. “We can talk as loud as we want.”
Nodding, Andrew wished he had something to say. He was still trying to process the fact that he was currently hanging out with a version of himself who was from eight years in the future. When it became clear that his older self wasn’t going to say the first words, he finally confessed, “I shouldn’t have smoked that weed.”
“You’re right, you shouldn’t have,” his older self agreed, smiling at the younger’s self-awareness. “But you can’t un-smoke it.”
“I just wanted Dooby to like me,” Andrew said quietly as they approached a bench. He flumped down on it, still recovering from his interrupted sleep and not caring how wet the seat of his pajama bottoms got.
The older Andrew sat down next to him. “Well, I think that part worked, but you have to figure out if it’s worth trying to earn the respect of people like that.”
Andrew squinted into the rainy darkness. “You sound like my mom. She’s always talking about respect. I’m like, Mom, that’s gay. I don’t need your gay advice. I’m not stupid.”
“But you don’t want advice from a person who lived through the exact same experiences as you? That seems kind of counter-productive.”
Andrew felt uncomfortable, as if he was being scolded, so he tried to change the subject. “How does that work? Did a third version of you abduct you at a basketball camp like you’re doing with me?”
“Time is a funny thing,” mused the older Andrew. “Its flow is not always as predictable as we would like. Hence, my simultaneous existence both here and in my present time, where I play for the Minnesota Timberwolves.”
Furrowing his eyebrows, Andrew responded, “Minnesota? I was hoping I would leave Canada and go somewhere a little warmer.”
“I shouldn’t have said that,” the older Andrew said. “We’re not talking about me. We’re talking about you, your goals, and your desires.”
“Well, obviously I’m going to play in the NBA since you just said it, so I don’t even know why you’re here if you just want to…motivate me or something faggy like that,” Andrew said.
The older Andrew shook his head. “Time doesn’t work that way. Our timelines do not run in parallel. They may diverge. They may have already begun to diverge. You have to make a decision, Andrew, about how badly you want this, because success is not guaranteed.”
“I know, I know, I get it,” Andrew replied surlily, looking at his feet. He felt overwhelmed by this talk of time and timelines, but they questioning of his attitude, he was familiar with. Lightning flashed, followed shortly by a loud roll of thunder. He lifted his head to make some sarcastic remark, but his older self had vanished.
For hours, Andrew sat alone on the bench in the rain, wondering if the entire thing had been a hallucination.
Andrew finished packing the last item of clothing in his duffel bag just as Dooby finally woke up. He rubbed his eyes and stretched, then noticed that all of his roommate’s stuff had been put away. “Wha…?”
“I think I’m done with this camp,” Andrew said shortly. “It’s not for me.”
“Come on man,” Dooby whined before his voice took a more concerned tone. “This isn’t because of the weed, is it? You ain’t gonna rat me out, are you?”
“Nope,” Andrew said. “But I need to take ball seriously, not do dribble drills with a bunch of retards. And I think the weed helped me realize it.”
“Gay,” replied Dooby, dropping back into his pillow. “Well, it was cool meeting a future NBA superstar, anyway.”
Andrew slung his bag over his shoulder. “Thanks man.” He reached up to the top bunk to offer a fist bump, which was received. “Enjoy the rest of this retarded camp.” He walked out of the room, down the hallway, and through the front door, where his mom was waiting in her minivan to pick him up.
As he climbed into the backseat, Andrew chanced a glance at the nearby trees. There, he saw the figure of a tall black man, waving and smiling. Andrew smiled in return. Then, the man turned away and disappeared.